German EC history
The three stars embroidered on the jerseys of the German national team are a memento of the three
world cup titles captured in 1954, 1974, and 1990. However, at the European level they could
also stand for the three European Championship titles won by the team of the DFB
(German Football Association). After 1972 and 1980, the German squad won the European title
for the third time in England in 1996. Captain Jürgen Klinsmann received the European
Championship Cup from Queen Elizabeth II (photo). In addition, the DFB team gained the
unofficial title of Vice European Champion twice in1976 and 1992.
The German success story is directly connected to the name of England. On their way to the first European title in 1972, the German squad, who had participated since 1954 in all World Cup tournaments and since 1972 in all European Championship tournaments, secured a historic victory. On April 29, 1972, the German side secured in England, the home of football, their first victory in a memorable semi-final at the Wembley stadium, which ended 3-1.
Keeper Sepp Maier, organizer of the defence Franz Beckenbauer, man markers Georg Schwarzenbeck and Horst Höttges, midfielders Herbert Wimmer and Siggi Held, playmakers Paul Breitner and Günter Netzer, and the strikers Jürgen Grabowski, Uli Hoeneß and Gerd Müller, are big names that make the hearts of soccer fans swell.
In the finals in Belgium, the German side won 2-1 in the semi-final against the host country and 3-0 in the final against the former Soviet Union thus capturing their first European title. "This is the best team, we ever had", stated the former coach Helmut Schön in the hour of his triumph. The London Times wrote: "Germany has the most talented football team on the continent". The French L’Equipe wrote: "Brussels witnessed the rehabilitation of attacking football."
Only 8 years went by before the next title was captured. Horst Hrubesch, today assistant of team manager Erich Ribbeck, scored 1980 in Rome both goals in the 2-1 final win against Belgium for the German squad who was coached then by former team manager Jupp Derwall. Moreover, Klaus Allofs became top scorer with 3 goals in the European Championship finals in Italy where 8 teams competed for the first time. Bernd Schuster and Lothar Matthäus were the rising stars in Italy. Whereas Schuster finished his international career voluntarily after only 21 games, Lothar Matthäus set a world record as far as his international appearances in the national colours are concerned.
In 1996, it was once again the squad from England who must be connected with the third triumph of a German team in a European championship tournament. The pictures of the former head coach Berti Vogts (photo left) are unforgotten, who after winning the final against the Czech Republic, was overcome with emotions and celebrated "La Ola" with the German fans in the Wembley stadium.
Oliver Bierhoff, who had already scored the equaliser, led the German squad to triumph with his historic golden goal in the 95th minute (2-1). The host country England had before been eliminated in a dramatic penalty shoot-out. After the finals, Matthias Sammer was voted "Europe's Player of the Year". In 1976, Germany won second place after a 3-5-penalty shoot-out against former Czechoslovakia (2-2 draw after overtime). The decisive miss of Uli Hoeneß in Belgrade is unforgotten. In 1992 in Sweden, the reigning world cup holder Germany was the favourite in the final against Denmark. The Danish team, who had replaced the team from Yugoslavia, ruled out of the tournament due the war in the Balkan States, scored a stunning 2-0 win over the German squad. Four years earlier, the German team had been eliminated at home 1-2 in the semi-final against the eventual titleholder Holland (photo right).